The numbers speak for themselves: a 20% year-on-year increase in revenue and 18% growth in pre-tax profits. Rapidity deservedly triumphed in a year that saw the business continue to win contracts with household-name clients. It also successfully amalgamated Lefa Print, which it acquired just over 18 months ago, into its operations - a process that included merging staff and equipment, in addition to fully refurbishing Lefa’s 1,300sqm premises in south London.
The Leeds-based company’s strapline is ‘making it happen’ and over the past 12 months it has lived up to the billing. In 2017, Resource bought Tebays, which operated two business divisions: event management and print management. The idea behind the purchase was to diversify without adding to overheads, while creating a combined service offering and integrated company culture. Resource immediately set about rationalising the business and stripping out duplicate functions. This included transferring all of Tebays’ print assets into Resource to maximise production opportunities. The move paid off for the business, which has continued to enjoy strong growth. Judges said Resource’s entry “stood out”. Worryingly for Resource’s rivals one judge added: “I suspect they might be the ones to beat next year too!”.
When Jayleigh attended an apprentice open day at Precision Colour Printing just over three years ago she was the only female out of a 30 strong group of applicants. Early on in her apprenticeship she set her sights high and stated that she would one day like to “run one of those big machines” in the company’s print department. According to the company she quickly learned a wide range of skills across different pieces of equipment and within 18 months of joining PCP she was running a six-unit Mitsubishi press. She is now a qualified printer and has graduated onto a 10-unit Heidelberg Speedmaster 102. PCP says that Jayleigh is a “valuable asset” to the print department and it’s only a matter of time before she fulfils her ambition and becomes number one operator on a 32pp heatset web.
Nothing is ever too much effort for this direct mail specialist which claims it is the “go to people” who “never say no”. But don’t just take Fox Group’s word for it. As part of a review of its customer service approach the company carried out a customer satisfaction survey assessing a six-month period to find out what its clients really thought about the business. The results were impressive. The number of ‘adequate’ responses dropped off significantly with more than 75% of respondents ‘very satisfied’ with the overall level of service provided. The customer centric approach paid off commercially, with group sales up 20% on the previous year. “Everyone claims the customer comes first, but these guys live and breathe it,” said the judges.
Put simply, sustainability is part of this Cornwall-based commercial printers’ DNA. From its BREEAM-rated factory - the world’s leading sustainability assessment for buildings – though to the rainwater harvesting, recycling of paper waste and its raft of green certifications. But it’s not a business that is prepared to rest on its laurels as activity in the past 12 months underlines. In addition to commissioning one of Cornwall’s largest roof-based solar panel arrays in August last year, it also introduced a new delivery system called ‘Stream’ for its fleet of delivery vans in November, which optimises delivery routes - this has helped St Austell achieve an overall mileage decrease of 21%, which equates to a CO2 saving of nearly a tonne. “A great entry dripping with data on how this business constantly strives to minimise its environmental footprint,” said the impressed judges.
Impress sent out a range of different printed collateral to potential customers showcasing the company’s skills - from a personalised ‘Little Box of Inspiration’ to calendars and Valentine’s cards featuring an adorably cute pug. The aim of the campaign was to drum up business - and it worked. From the circa 15,000 items it mailed out over a 12-month period, Impress got 301 new clients. The company smashed numerous targets: it achieved digital growth of 60% against a target of 20%, saw litho revenue increase by 4.1% and mailing revenue grow by more than 22% off the back of the campaign. Traffic to the Impress website also increased dramatically thanks in part to clients posting photos and thank-you notes on social media on receiving the mailers. Judges were impressed by the company’s “clever use of integral branding to deliver a comprehensive campaign that offered a great ROI”.
Few categories are as tough as Fine Art Printer of the Year, with submissions needing to demonstrate the very highest levels of origination and print. Boss Print nailed the criteria and turned last year’s highly commended into a resounding victory this time around. As one judge noted “I didn’t want to judge these submissions - I wanted to put them in my bag and take them home and love them for ever. They were simply beautiful.” The work the judges singled out for particularly high praise included Andy’s In Town, which they described as “amazingly rich and a real joy to judge” and Paper Dolls, a book produced to showcase the collage and design work of artist Hormazd Narielwalla, which was described as a “masterpiece - sensational stuff”.
The saying goes that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and it’s something that Curtis Packaging knows all about, judging by the beauty brand samples it submitted. The Charlotte Tilbury Icon Palette, printed in four special colours onto Invercote G SBS 450gsm board, really caught the eye. It featured overall gloss lamination and a large area of rose gold foil covering both sides of the pack. The area of hot foil stamping for the rose gold was particularly challenging for the company’s skilled operators with the front of pack requiring very fine and small copy reversed out of the foil and registering to the finest of points at the tip of the silver foil. Equally as challenging was the Hollywood Beauty Glow carton. With two passes required on the foil and the close register of the foil blocking colours, Curtis’ foiling department worked patiently to ensure precise register as even the slightest movement would stand out a mile, and with more than 150,000 cartons being produced consistency was vital. The challenging nature of the project caught the judges’ attention. They praised the intricate and beautiful work undertaken by Curtis.
There wasn’t a stand-out sample from the four Pindar submitted - the judges loved them all, saying the print quality was simply superb. “Images jumped off the page and everything about these publications was beautiful.” The cover of Waitrose & Partners Drinks magazine (a 220,000 run) popped thanks to the use of a powerful Pantone fluorescent pink. Hunger magazine, which has a print run of 15,000 copies, presented its own set of challenges as Pindar showed what web offset can achieve when it comes to exacting fashion content. Then there’s Harrods Magazine, which demands high-quality reproduction of high-value items. Text sections were printed web offset while covers were sheetfed. The boutique magazine was then perfect bound on a high-speed Muller Martini line.
Aimed at short-run (less than 1,000 copies), high-value digital print, this keenly contested category saw last year’s highly commended company deservedly triumph this time around. Pureprint was praised by the judges for the 150-run publication Clay, which used five different paper stocks, but the submission that truly stood out was the ‘Think with Google’ brochure. The brochure was produced to represent the tech giant’s innovative approach to doing business. Pureprint used duplexing and laser cutting on five different colours of material to create a striking visual effect. The cover alone featured embossed material, foiling, duplexing, white ink and laser cutting. The job was assembled and delivered in a tight time frame as the company wanted to hand it out to delegates at a conference in San Francisco.
From an edition of WRAP that featured five original pull-out pieces of wrapping paper by specially commissioned illustrators, through to the metallic cover of Beauty Papers that boasted an arresting image of music icon David Bowie, Park was praised for its “simply beautifully produced products across the board, demonstrating complexity and high-end production values”. This was underscored by the company’s work on the front cover of Printed Pages, where to add interest and tactility it used a heavy sand grain emboss after printing.
The presentation packaging Pureprint produced for Urs Fischer Paintings oozed luxury, but creating it wasn’t a straightforward process. The packaging underwent numerous different guises during the R&D phase to find a suitable design that could hold the weight of three individual volumes. Pureprint eventually plumped for a ‘castle’ construction featuring slotted internal grooves that lock together and create a rigid box that has no dips or sagging on any sides of the covering materials. Each of the other components also had to be 100% correct in their execution. It took eight months to complete this exacting project, but the effort paid off as the final product received glowing accolades from the modern art world. It was also widely praised by judges who gushed “amazing entry, every project had something special – breathtaking!”.
Newspaper printing is arguably one of the most challenging print sectors. High volumes and quick turnaround times leave little margin for error. However, thanks to its work for newspapers like The Daily Mirror, which is its core business and has a nightly print order of around 300,000 copies, Reach’s Watford operation showed that it can more than live up to these demands. Its submission also included The Racing Post (for which it produces 40,000 copies nightly), The Guardian (120,000 copies nightly) and China Daily, for which Reach prints in the region of 15,000 copies on six days of the week. The judges were suitably impressed by the consistently high level of print across all of the newspaper samples Reach submitted, which “considering these are daily titles working to the tightest deadlines is amazing”.
CS Labels has triumphed in this hotly contested category thanks to some “fantastic print and finishing that overcame some serious technical challenges,” according to the judges. They were particularly overwhelmed by the level of detail that went into the label the company produced for Neptune Rum. Design details on the brand’s existing label were lost from a distance or in the light, so the drinks company wanted a labelling solution that delivered its icon more effectively. In addition to trialling different gold shades to find the perfect match, CS printed on Tintoretto Gesso wet strength substrates to give the label a distressed style and the shape of Neptune’s head was printed in a bold black, which was then covered with gold foil. The resulting label was impactful and clearly recognisable as Neptune Rum.
This category was formerly the Industrial Digital Printer of the Year Award and the judges were looking for stunning examples of long-run (more than 1,000 copies) targeted messaging. Go Inspire Group deservedly triumphed with an entry brimming with long-run, highly complex mailings for the likes of Sun Life Financial of Canada, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. The personalised campaign for the latter was particularly challenging as it consisted of a 4pp wallet with 3x2pp personalised coupon-sheets and spine-glued 4pp with dynamic copy content. The mailer, which was printed on the company’s HP T490 HD high-speed wide-format digital inkjet press, had a mind-boggling 66,355,200 possible permutations. “Across every project these guys showed what can be achieved when you combine great print with best-in-class data handling,” said the judges.
Omni Colour blew away the judges with its “stunning use of materials and impressive installations”. The work it produced to accompany the London Design Festival 2018 underlined the company’s core strengths. Called in at the last minute after two printers pulled out of the project, Omni Colour had just two weeks to deliver a range of printed collateral, including wall and floor graphics. The company only had one day to survey, one day to draw up plans, five days for production and three days for the install, but it delivered the goods after throwing all-nighters to get the job done. It also undertook an eye-catching and incredibly complex art installation at Gloucester Road underground station for Art on the Underground, featuring 3D elements such as speaker phones, fried eggs and trainers.
There can be no better endorsement of Windles’ entry than the comments of one judge who said “where can I buy their cards – I need them!” The company’s “bright and enticing cards” run a vast gamut of different print and finishing processes. From the tactile ‘Jamboree’ range featuring patterned textures, deep emboss and gorgeous foiling, to ‘Form’ – a card that when opened up reveals a 3D skyline scene, a magical scene from Bethlehem, a surprise birthday cake or a princess crown. No less impressive is the chic and elegant greetings cards produced for Santoro London, which featured striking designs and bold colours. Eight special colours were used to achieve the card’s vibrant gradient backgrounds and after a silk screen varnish was applied embossing was carried out with 16 textured emboss dies across the B1 sheet. It was an incredibly complex job, but the outcome wooed the judges.
Put simply, the judges were blown away by the high quality of Kingsbury’s entry. The limited run of 250 copies of ‘The Art of Whisky’ was wrapped in sheet copper to mirror the copper stills used for the distilling of this ‘liquid gold’. The company had to source sheets of very thin copper that it could wrap around the case cover and then apply a deep blind deboss. Judges said the book was “breathtaking in terms of print and production values”. However, they were even more impressed by a special edition of Roald Dahl’s classic story The Witches. The company’s production team showed off their traditional binding skills and the finishing team worked throughout the night and over a weekend to deliver the books, which resulted in an understandably ecstatic client.
The run lengths of report and accounts may be getting shorter, but in many cases their pagination is getting bigger. What hasn’t changed are the exacting standards of the companies that want their reports to mirror their brand values. This is where CPI Colour excelled. Its work for property developer U+I was so good the CEO of the company said he “loved it”. Equally as impressive was the work produced for broadcaster Channel 4, which tries to push the boundaries each year. This time around the designer specified two foils on the cover, neon inks, short pages, coated and uncoated materials and OTA binding. It was a big ask, but the resulting document delivered on the ‘wow’ factor the client wanted. The judges were equally impressed: “This entry has a consistently high standard across every sample. A lot of effort has gone into these and it shows.”
Lettershop’s submission included samples produced for the likes of Benenden Health, Macmillan Cancer Support and Shell, but the mailer that knocked the socks off the judges was a pack produced for HSBC. With a tight turnaround time of seven days from receipt of data and artwork to landing on recipients’ doorsteps, HSBC specified a premium pack that oozed quality and luxury. The booklet cover was produced sheetfed using UV inks with all internal pages produced on the company’s Kodak NexPress. The pack was then wrapped in a closed-face ‘maltese-style’ wallet with a zip strip to open. Judges said the pack was of the “highest quality and a great use of data too - a really clever mailer”.
Curtis’ entry consisted of “great examples of precision print” that had the “feel of quality and look of luxury” said the judges. A good example of this was the Harrods chocolate bar packaging that needed to reflect the quality of the chocolate inside. The printed surface was protected with a matt laminate that created a lovely smooth texture and allowed the spot UV varnish on the colourful front panel to catch the light. The pack was further enhanced by gold foil that was lifted from the face of the sleeve by the second pass emboss. Just as challenging was the Christmas pyramids the company produced for Neal’s Yard. Due to the client’s environmental demands the packs were printed using vegetable-based inks. The company’s constructional design team spent many hours trialing the best lock and folds to get the finished look just right.
Judges awarded Hampton “10 out of 10” for all its samples, but they were particularly impressed by the work the company produced for car manufacturers Range Rover and Bentley. For the former, Hampton produced 3,800 copies of a large luxury brochure in more than 13 different languages. The luxurious case-bound brochure was inserted into a printed and spot UV varnished ‘pizza style’ box and then into a double wall mailing carton for distribution to the car firm’s customers globally. Equally as impressive was the handover brochure produced to accompany Bentley’s Continental GT Number 9 Edition car. Hampton had to commission a bespoke green ink to recreate the paint colour of the limited edition car. As the judges noted, the company paid “outstanding attention to detail and finishing across every submission”.
According to the judges this entry showcased an “excellent use of materials to produce impactful products that deliver high-value POP”. But don’t just take their word for it. Check out the glitzy job SMP produced for Marks & Spencer to highlight the company’s sponsorship of Britain’s Got Talent, which used Mirri Confetti board to add a bit of sparkle and catch shoppers’ attention. Then there’s the giant free-standing book created for Penguin to promote the launch of a new title that saw lots of people queuing to pose for selfies in front of. Judges were equally impressed by the 3D ‘pop-up’ POP story book, which was produced to promote supermarket chain Aldi’s 2018 Christmas campaign.